We’ll Cross That Bridge When
We…oops! We’re There!


Leonard Zwelling

         How many times have we seen this movie before?

         Must I go through another session of disillusion with Chris
Christie as the star in this reprise of “All the Governor’s Men”?  Here was a guy who I was sure would at least
compete for the Republican presidential nomination. Now he is fighting for his
political life knowing that all it will take is one small shoe to fall to
shatter his clay feet.

         If you have been on Mars for the past week or so, emails
acquired by the New Jersey legislature’s subpoena power seem to indicate that
in September of last year, the four days of lane closures from Fort Lee onto
the George Washington Bridge, the major artery from New Jersey to northern
Manhattan, were part of political payback, not the traffic study it had been reputed
to be. The mayor of Fort Lee did not back Mr. Christie’s re-election campaign
and putatively the governor’s deputy chief of staff got her allies (and
Christie loyalists) at the Port Authority to close the lanes for a mock traffic
study to take their pound of flesh from their own constituents. Forget about
how vindictive this is. Forget about how petty it is. At its core, it’s just
plain stupid!

         The concerns about the former presidential front-runner on
whom many in the GOP have pinned their hopes to recapture the White House in 2
years are:

What did he know
and when did he know it?

What did he not know and why not? Was this willful
deniability at work?

Why did he think
2 prominent aides resigned several months ago after the traffic incident?

What kind of
environment had he established in his office to allow people to think he would
tolerate this nonsense had he found out?

And what about
the Hurricane Sandy relief funds? Were they also meted out as political favors
and withheld from mayors in NJ who were not Christie allies?

almost two hour news conference the governor held last week was about as
polished a performance as could have been expected, but it does not allay the
fears of many Christie supporters that the five questions still need answering
and that all it would take is one stray email or one grant of immunity before
the hammer falls on a once promising political career.

struck me was apparently how long such questions can go unanswered. But
compared to the ones unanswered here in Houston for the past 2 years, this is

Why were the
conflict of interest rules suspended for Dr. DePinho? Dr. Shine’s hand waving
not withstanding, what is the answer? (I don’t care if Aveo was DePinho’s baby.
It was time to cut the cord when you ascend to the Presidency of MD Anderson,
especially given the doubling of his salary compared to his predecessor’s. He
wasn’t in Kansas or Boston any more).

What about Dr.
Chen? Did she receive a COI pass as well?

When is Dr.
DePinho going to answer for the poor stock advice he gave when he pushed the
value of Aveo stock up on national TV at a time when the poor results of the trial
with the company’s lead compound were available? Do we believe the company’s
founder, married to a member of its Scientific Advisory Board, was not aware of
these poor clinical trial results? The FDA found these results horribly wanting
as would any oncologist, yet the Aveo team took the results to the FDA
expecting approval. How is that possible?

Does anyone
really believe that Dr. DePinho has no oversight of the resources his wife’s
team have available to them at IACS? Isn’t that a bit of nepotism and COI, not
to mention denial and naiveté?

When is one of
the clinical leadership openings going to be filled by someone with something
other than an MD Anderson pedigree? Our clinical faculty are great, but someone
outside of Houston must know something useful about cancer that could add to
Anderson’s greatness.

physical presence, Dr. DePinho and Governor Christie bear no resemblance. In
reputation as bullies, they are twins. And, because of the fear their
personalities seem to engender, what they interpret as control might just be
the tight lid on the sauce pan they thought contained rice on simmer, but was actually
full of pop corn on high heat. It will pop its top at some point and goodness
knows what will come out.

of us who lived through Watergate and Monica have lived through this movie
before and it is just so rare for the movie to end with rice rather than popcorn
in the aisles.

Leonard Zwelling